As cold weather approaches, the Department of Environmental Protection is urging homeowners to act now to save energy and money by inspecting indoor and outdoor home heating oil tanks for potential problems prior to refilling them.
“It is very important to properly maintain heating oil tanks not only to save energy and money, but to protect the health of you and your family,” Acting DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. “Don’t put it off; inspect your tank now to ensure a safe, warm winter.”
Leaking heating oil can cause indoor air problems and potentially contaminate groundwater and private drinking water wells. A spill cleanup can cost up to $50,000 and may not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Residents who think their oil tank may have a problem should immediately contact their oil company for help.
A quarter of all Pennsylvania homes use heating oil to stay warm in the winter.
DEP encourages homeowners to consider these tips:
• For safety reasons, always assume the tank contains at least some oil;
• Routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment;
• Check for signs of rusting on the tank and its structural supports;
• Examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks;
• Never tip over or empty a tank on the ground;
• Enlist a professional to perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system; and
• Recognize that wet spots or odors near the tank may signal a problem.
For fuel delivery, make certain that the home address is clearly visible and the tank’s fill line clearly marked. If a resident cannot be home when fuel oil is delivered, mark the fill pipe with a red flag or marker and inform the oil company of the location. Ensure that any disconnected fill pipes that remain above the ground are permanently sealed and cannot be opened.
Residents are urged to inspect and maintain their heating oil tanks to avoid needlessly losing fuel and to protect the investment they have made to keep themselves warm.
For more information and to download a free fact sheet, “Tips for Residential Heating Oil Tank Owners,” visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Storage Tanks, or call the agency’s Division of Storage Tanks at 717-772-5599.